Packaged FINDINGS: Ruby coffee perks up category with its simplicity

Posted on Jul 17, 2019 by

For those that remember the hard-boiled detective Joe Friday, you can’t help but recall the line, “just the facts ma’am” when he began interrogating a witness. I always liked this direct if not abrupt approach of eliminating the clutter and getting to the point of things. Oddly, this is quite similar to my response to the Ruby coffee packaging. My first impression is simple, dynamic, and concise. One can’t help but be immediately attracted to the large red and white shield – the central element in an exceedingly spare, minimalist package design leaving no chance of getting caught up in useless decoration. I have to admit, my preference for clean, elegant design that allows white space to flourish makes it very compelling.

Not only is the package designed to maximize display of the brand, package structure is engineered to feature a unique zipper reseal closure, recalling the can key, which used to be attached to canned food and coffee as an opening tool. The key style opener recreates a nostalgic experience of opening a can of coffee – the vacuum seal is broken, the rush of air as the smell of fresh coffee wafts up, setting the expectation for a great cup of coffee. Behind the creative opener, it allows the package to simply be zipped shut when not in use, eliminating the messy need for the wire coated folding bands popularly used for sealing – the ultimate consumer benefit being to keep the package and brand in tact at all times, full or empty.

The opening made me look closer at the packaging strategy beyond the containment of product. The packaging system was obviously created from a structural and cost standpoint; this was genius – to deliver high impact with significant cost reduction, achieved by using the same structural and graphic package design for all variations. By reducing the number of SKUs to a uniform size, and by printing one design in higher volume, you reduce your per package cost. The only thing you have to customize – the flavor and sourcing information – achieved by printing customized labels that can be printed in volumes related to sales. If one flavor sells twice as many packages, you simply adjust your print quantity to meet your need. 

If all of this sounds too good to be true it is – and this is where I believe further problem solving can occur. The branding has predominance on the package – great. The next most important information a consumer seeks is flavor and content. The brand icon refers to the product as “colorful coffees” but it has no reference point attached to it. Is it the brand icon that is colorful, or is it the coffee blend (flavor copy) that is colorful? The brand is big, red and shiny. The flavor or blend copy is small and while set up in a variety of colors is blown away by the presence of the brand. Perhaps making the copy a little bolder, larger or containing copy in a color band unique to each blend would provide relevance. It certainly will make it easier for the consumer to distinguish their way through the flavor options.

Additionally, important copy that delivers particular information about the source and blend of the coffee is so recessive that I find it virtually impossible to read without magnification. They have a wonderful story to tell, but seem to be almost too humble to tell it. Furthermore, at no point on the package does it communicate “beans” as opposed to ground coffee. I gave the coffee as a gift, only to find out the recipient did not own a grinder and could not use the product.

I can understand the desire for a simple, “just–the–facts” packaging design. There is a bold, clean look that is rarely found in packaging but carried to the extreme, ends up disappointing the consumer by adding a level of difficulty to use. Incorporating subtle changes into the packaging does not mean it has to become overwhelming or overcrowded but with the creativity that the Ruby team has used so far, if nudged into a slightly greater focus can be a superb packaging system that tells a more complete story, which is a critical aspect of effective packaging. 

If you would like to explore how to create an effective packaging solution for your brand using simple but impactful design, contact us at 920-886-7727 or  Throughout our 60 plus years of supporting customers with consumer brands large and small, we apply our experience and expertise to the entire process to create efficient and effective solutions. 

The purpose of our “findings” blog is to spotlight packaging that displays thinking that breaks the mold, delivers something new or chancy – or at the very least, highlights packaging that catches your eye in the retail environment.